Overall Rating: A
Synopsis: Yukari is an attractive high schooler, but her life consists of traveling from high school to cram school to home, and back again. Her monotonous life gets upturned when she meets a group of fashion design students. They want her to be their model, and after some hesitation, she agrees. Mostly, because she meets their leader, George, who is ridiculously attractive. They give her a makeover that involves cutting her bangs and giving her sexier clothes to wear, and the show is underway.
I had heard good things about Paradise Kiss before I got a chance to watch it, but once I sat down (actually laid down in my bed) and started watching it, I quickly fell in love with the series. Of course, I'm predisposed to liking a series about fashion with attractive, androgynous men (One of the main characters, George, who has greyish/green hair, is definitely a bishonen), and adorable Japanese women with pink hair (Miwako is dating Arashi, the blonde punk, and dresses in frilly clothes, squeals a lot, and runs around doing adorable things) in it. As most of my friends know, I'm a vain motherfucker, and I like to dress nicely. So, it would be difficult for me to not love an anime that seems to pander directly to that.
Fortunately, the series is a lot deeper than that. The characters are well-developed, and interesting, including a tranny named Isabella who has been dressing in women's clothes since she was little. She has been friends with George ever since he designed her first dress for her, and always supports him. She acts as the mother for the group, looking out for everyone.
The characters are passionate about their clothes and their relationships, which are complicated and realistic. For example, the main relationship in the series is between Yukari and George. Yukari spends the series trying to figure out what's important to her in life, and trying to balance her desire to be a successful model, trying to impress and please George, and to be respected by her mother. George, on the other hand, spends his time feeding his own ego, and treating women (including Yukari) like trophies, but you get to watch his relationship with Yukari change him subtly over the course of the series.
If you like your anime to involve action, panty-shots, and robots, then this one isn't for you. However, if you like interesting characters, involved story, hot androgynous men, and pink haired, adorable women, then this one is for you. The anime is based on the manga series of the same name, by Ai Yazawa and published in English by Tokyopop, but I haven't had a chance to read it...yet.